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Tue, Nov 08, 2022

ISS Resupply Mission On its way with 4+ Tons of Science Kit Aboard

Northrop Grumman Cygnus Takes Center Stage Before a Rendezvous with the Station's Canadarm2 for Capture

NASA's latest resupply mission sent a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft up to the ISS with a fresh load of supplies and experiments in tow.

The flight will be the 18th cargo mission flown by a Grumman spacecraft, and the 7th under its current Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA. The ship is scheduled to approach the station in the early hours of the morning on November 9th, when NASA astronaut Nicole Mann will use the station's robotic Canadarm2 to capture the Cygnus upon its arrival. The Cygnus spacecraft, dubbed by Grumman as the ‘S.S. Sally Ride’, will deliver more than 250 scientific investigations for use during expedition 68. In all, more than 8,200 lbs of cargo was launched aboard the Cygnus, brought aloft by an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at Wallops.

In the goodie bag this time around, astronauts will receive a "BioFabrication Facility" for use in the microgravity laboratory. In a follow up to a 2019 experiment that saw the tech grow human heart cells in space, the 3D bioprinter tests will aim to compare the quality of tissue samples grown in space to those grown in full gravity back on earth. Other experiments for Plant Habitat-03 will assess the epigenetics of plants growing aboard the ISS, as well as fertility studies regarding the effects of prolonged exposure of microgravity on bovine cell cultures.

Finally, the shipment will include a constellation of 3 CubeSats for deployment after arrival at the ISS: PEARLAFRICASAT-1, the first satellite developed by Uganda; ZIMSAT-1, Zimbabwe’s first satellite; and TAKA from Japan. The satellites are a part of the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Project-5 (BIRDS-5), a joint effort to perform observations of Earth using COTS camera technology and electronic instrumentation to evaluate the quality of soils, farmlands, and terrain. While somewhat low-tech compared to the usual wizardry packed into a satellite, the program is meant to provide students from developing nations with hands-on satellite development opportunities.

Perhaps most importantly for fans of spacewalks, the Cygnus will also deliver a new mounting bracket for the starboard side of the ISS truss assembly for a future installation of new solar arrays, planned for an EVA installation on November 15. 

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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